Sheree Fitch knew she wanted to write since she was seven years old. It all started with a tongue twister on a bulletin board.
“I went ‘something I wrote can make someone happy,’ and I saw the power that words had,” the Canadian author and poet said.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of her first book, “Toes in my Nose.” She wrote it at age 20, but it wasn’t published for another 10 years by Doubleday Canada.
Fitch is a St. Thomas University graduate and stopped at Westminster Books, in her hometown of Fredericton, for a book signing Friday.
Fitch wrote the book for her son, Jordan, when he was two years old. She said the book was inspired by the everyday life of a young mother with young son. She has written more than 25 books, most of them for children.
“If I hadn’t had children I might have gone in a different direction with my writing.”
Fitch said she was recommended to the English program at STU by Fred Cogswell, a professor at the University of New Brunswick.
She said Cogswell always told her “an imagination is one thing but an educated imagination is another thing, and you need to educate your imagination.”
“He said, ‘you know Sheree, St. Thomas is small […] and I think they have some of the best English professors in Canada up at St. Thomas.”
Westminster Books sold Fitch’s work when she only had one book, and has continued to support her ever since.
“We’ve had a lot of signings here haven’t we Janet?”
“Yes, that’s right,” said Janet North, one of Westminster Books’ owners.
Fitch is preparing to write another adult fiction book after Christmas. She said writing for children is making a “joyful noise,” while writing for adults means going deeper into another world.
She just came back from Bhutan where she worked with teachers to create five books in English and five books in Zanka, the Bhutanese language. The books were for three to five-year-old children and will be put in early childhood education centres, which have only been open for two years.
“Fifteen years ago I went there to work with writers to try to start to develop an indigenous literature for kids. So it’s Bhutanese literature for Bhutanese children by Bhutanese writers and Bhutanese artists.”
While Fitch loves writing, she says the older she gets the more excited she becomes about other people’s writing.
What also excites her is seeing how her books are being passed on. David Myles, Fredericton-based singer/songwriter, grew up hearing her stories and is now reading them to his daughter.
He is part of one of her books, “There were Monkeys in my Kitchen,” which was published in 1992.
“David was one of the monkeys in my kitchen and he grew up with some of these books. So it is on the second generation now,” Fitch said.
“I can remember him five-years-old in my kitchen bouncing basketballs.”
Myles, his wife Nina Corfu and four month old daughter attended Fitch’s signing at Westminster Books. It was the first time Fitch was meeting Myles’s daughter.
“I used to be one of the monkeys in her kitchen. I spent a lot of time in her kitchen on Charlotte Street,” said Myles.
Fitch has had a difficult couple of years. She lost her brother in February and her father two years ago. She is in Fredericton spending time with her mother and sister and said she always calls the city home.
“Right now it’s home and it always will be home. My mother’s here and my sister’s here. A lot of memories. This is where my little boys stuck their toes in my nose. I get kind of nostalgic about that. I sometimes think I’d give anything to go back to those days.”
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